90's hip hop artist, Mark Morrison, has vowed to return to Leicester to help combat youth crime within the city.
The singer who became a household name for his track 'Return of the Mack' in 1996 once said he would never return to the city where he grew up. However, in a change of heart, he now plans to help get Leicester's young people off of the streets and away from a potential life of crime.
Morrison, grew up on Barnard Close in the Highfields area of Leicester. However, he now lives in Palm Beach, Florida where he runs his record label called MackLife Records. He also has a base in Kensington, London.
During a recent visit to Leicester, Morrison stopped outside his former home. "This is where it started" - he says. It's obvious that he has never forgotten where he came from.
"I grew up on the St Marks Estate. Return of the Mack was written in Welford Road prison, I'm from here... I was on the dole living at 16 Barnard Close. That's where I began my music career when I was on the dole for several years."
Morrison had numerous run-ins with the law when he was younger. But after a family friend visited him in a prison cell and asked what he wanted to do with his life, he realised music was his passion.
He became involved with the Leicester African Caribbean Business Association, who he gives his thanks to for helping him pursue his dream.
Morrison then created his own label called Joe'Mel, named after his parents, after obtaining a £1k grant from the Leicester African Caribbean Business Association. He produced a record called 'Crazy' and ventured around Leicester's nightclubs in the hope that a DJ would play his track.
But soon after, Morrison got into trouble with the law once more, justwhen his career had been on the rise.
During his recent visit to Leicester, he spoke to Baroness Sandip Verma, a Conservative member of the House of Lords, to discuss ways to reduce knife crime in the city. He told Baroness Verma about how he was exonerated of murder and how his time spent in prison.
He has not been in trouble with the police now for more than a decade he says and wants to use his experience to help young people who are just like he was growing up in Highfields.
"I felt I needed to come back and do something for the city... Young black people are now endangered people in the city. These people look like me, they know me. People here look at me and think 'we know him, we know he got stabbed, we know he went to prison, but we know he came out on top'... Everyone gets a second chance, it took me 20 years to get mine."
Morrison now wants to give people a place to go to learn, to explore their talents but also to remind them the alternative is not good.
Last year, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, Leicester had its worst year in a decade in terms of the number of knife-crime related incidents.
serious crimes involving a knife reported in Leicester in 2019
assaults involving a knife or sharp object (2019)
According to UKCrimeStats, between the period of January to May this year, there have been 12,168 reports of violent crime in Leicestershire. There have also been 266 reports of a crime involving weapons in the county.
By returning to Leicester, Morrison hopes to be able to leave a more positive mark on the city than when he was younger. He, along with Baronness Verma, will continue to work to give young people in Leicester a better future. His message to young people is: "Put down the knife and pick up the mic."